Oregon and SW Washington Fisheries Update April 24th, 2020

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Willamette Valley/Metro – The Willamette River has been the go-to spot for trollers, with the Multnomah Channel producing the best catches here lately. All reaches of river are producing now, but with the low, clear water conditions upon us once more, the lower river anglers are picking off the cream of the crop before springers make it to the Portland Harbor and Oregon City.

Spring Chinook are now passing Willamette Falls in good numbers, we’re seeing in excess of 300 per day pass the falls so upper basin fisheries should trigger this week. To date, nearly 4,000 adults have bypassed Willamette Falls.

With the warming temperatures, hardware trollers, working size 3.5 spinners behind 360 flashers are scoring fish, when the fish feel like it. Meldrum Bar to the Milwaukie Boat Ramp seems to be producing the best catches. Backtrollers working eggs and shrimp are also working downstream of the mouth of the Clackamas with plugs also taking an occasional spring Chinook and a rare summer steelhead.

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Spring Chinook passage at Bonneville Dam is ramping up, but still behind the Willamette count, which isn’t unusual. About 2,300 adults have bypassed Bonneville at this time, with peak passage due around May 10th. Still no one fishing for springers on the mainstem Columbia.

Like most rivers in the district, the Clackamas remains sparsely populated with anglers as most boat ramps and access points are closed. There are still late-run winter steelhead however, and better numbers of summer steelhead are starting to show. It’s still far from great fishing however and no one is expecting good spring Chinook fishing this year.

Here’s what pro guide Jeff Stoeger (503-704-7920) of O2BFISHN GUIDE SERVICE had to say about Sandy River fishing, “Hello All. The fishing report is going to be short. There has been some late winters and some summers being caught.  I heard that the state parks have closed the boat ramp at Lewis and Clark for they have placed cones and tape blocking access to the ramp. I also heard that they have placed some barricades in some of the parking areas to keep people out. The only place that you can access is Oxbow Park and some section of open property above Oxbow. If you plan to float the river it looks like Revenue bridge down to Oxbow is the only place to put in and take out. I know that there are springers in the river and Oxbow Park is the likely place to target them in deep pools.”

Don’t overlook trout opportunities as many area lakes continue to be stocked with rainbow trout. It’s kinda like the old days however, when we had to go fishing without the knowledge of when trout were going to be stocked where. Makes it kinda like treasure hunting! Most lakes in the districts have been stocked at least once however.

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Northwest Oregon – It’s transition time for north coast anglers. Ideally, we’d be taking advantage of the ample numbers of lingcod and sea bass to the west of us, but with most boat ramps closed, that’s simply not an option right now.

A few bright winter steelhead are still entering north coast rivers with the Wilson and Nestucca remaining the top options. Some summer steelhead are showing in the catch as well.

Few folks are fishing for spring Chinook, it’s early yet, but not unprecedented to catch one in mid-April either. Maybe more so this year than previous however, boat ramps remain closed.

There’s talk of easing restrictions by early May, that’s right around the corner and so is halibut season. It weighs on the minds of many. Seasons haven’t officially been adopted just yet, but check this page for when they are. Halibut season typically kicks off around mid-May.

Central and Eastern Oregon Fishing Reports

From our friend Tim Moran:

Tim has provided an OUTSTANDING report for our readers. PAID subscribers can access the full version of Tim’s knowledge using their log in information. Here is the abbreviated version for our free subscriber base.

Well this is (was) the traditional opener back in the day when there was such a thing – but the 3rd weekend in April still is a special weekend for me.  It’s usually the first camping trip of the year and it brings me back to years spent with my dad and brother fishing at Crane and later with my son on Wickiup. There’s nothing like the smell of bacon and coffee in the morning!  The weather looks pretty favorable so hopefully we can all get out and enjoy the weekend, so here’s the report and forecast. 

Odell Lake – No ice,  campgrounds may be closed but this is not a bad day trip from Eugene or Bend so I expect there will be some fishing done here.  I checked Shelter Cove’s website and Facebook page and there was no mention they were closed so assume they’re open but call ahead.  They do have ramps, sites and cabins.  Kokanee are traditionally up close to the surface this time of year so troll at least 100 ft behind the boat with a flasher, no weight and a spinner or hoochie tipped with scented corn.

Wickiup Reservoir – Campgrounds are closed as are boat ramps.  I believe camping is open in unimproved areas but check with USFS and BLM before you go.  Reports are Wickiup is already only 75% of full pool.  No idea what fishing will look like.  It’s the second bad water year in a row.  Cross your fingers and troll like described in the Odell report. 

Hosmer Lake –  I think this will be very good early. Chironomids or stripping small nymphs should take fish regularly.

Davis Lake – Look for trout near the creek mouths and bass in the reeds or up against the lava flows.         

Crane Prairie – Crane should fish well but it will be a personal watercraft kinda opening with ramps closed. 

Lower Deschutes River –  Maupin area – trout fishing has been good fishing nymphs.  There are more caddis hatching now along with some BWO’s and other mayflies so bring your box and look to match the hatch. 

John Day River – the river is at 3800 CFS and rising a bit which means its high and probably pretty murky.  The Steelhead are about finished and it was a slow year for the most part there.  Bass will begin to be the main attraction if they aren’t already. 

Metolius River –   Nymphs all day but there will be more BWO, PMD’s, Yellow Sallies and caddis hatches in the afternoons.  Golden stones are making a showing too.  Check in at THE FLY FISHER’S PLACE in Sisters for the very latest, greatest info, flies and more.   

Crooked River – Flows have bumped up to 250 CFS. If they stabilize here, fishing will be good but right after the bump (now) the river fills with moss and can be difficult to fish.

Ochocco, Haystack Reservoir –  Fishing is good on both lakes. Bass are starting to wake up too.  Fish 4′ plastic grubs around structure for large and smallmouth.  A smallmouth over 4 pounds was taken last week from haystack.  

Owyhee River – I’m heading there this weekend and with the Idahoans kicked off the river – it should be empty.  My friend and Fly fisherman extraordinaire Greg Haase was on the river last week and reported good fishing on size 18 and 20 dark colored nymphs.  He reported lots of 18″+ fish.  It’s a long way from anywhere in Oregon but that’s why it’s good and worth the drive!       

From ODF&W

ODF&W is putting the fishing reporting on hiatus for a few weeks so nothing to report this week.

Southwest – From ODF&W

ODF&W is putting the fishing reporting on hiatus for a few weeks so nothing to report this week.

SW Washington –  From the WDF&W web site, April 9

  • Fishing and shellfishing seasons: All recreational fishing and shellfishing are closed until at least May 4 statewide in response to the governor’s order to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” and limit the spread of coronavirus. 
  • Razor clams: Planned razor clam digs have been canceled until further notice.
  • Catch record cards: Return via mail or hold onto them until you are safe to drop off.
  • Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Check Stations: AIS check stations are still active, and WDFW staff are inspecting watercraft for invasive species.

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